Last year, Barack Obama had the right smirking with glee when he made the sensible suggestion that if the U.S. gets intelligence that there are Al Qaeda cells operating in Pakistan, we should go in and get them, with or without permission of the Pakistani government. If Pakistan won't root out Al Qaeda, Obama said, his administration would. I never quite understood the controversy in that statement, which by the way, is the position of many in the U.S. military.
Nevertheless, Obama was roundly ridiculed. John McCain said the statement showed Obama's naivete. Mitt Romney called him "Dr. Strangelove." Conservative blogs mischaracterized his position as wanting to "invade" or "bomb" Pakistan. Obama's critics at the time apparently believed that it's fine to invade an occupy a country whose government had virtually no ties to Al Qaeda, but suggesting we cross the border into a country whose government may be actively or passively harboring large numbers of Al Qaeda and Taliban forces is foolish.
It looks like the Bush administration didn't find Obama's position all that naive, because they've adopted it to the letter:
President Bush secretly approved orders in July that for the first time allow American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government, according to senior American officials.
The new orders reflect concern about safe havens for Al Qaeda and the Taliban inside Pakistan, as well as an American view that Pakistan lacks the will and ability to combat militants. They also illustrate lingering distrust of the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies and a belief that some American operations had been compromised once Pakistanis were advised of the details.
Will McCain now condemn the Bush administration's decision to go into Pakistan? Or was this idea only naive ten months ago? Was it only naive because it came from Obama?
The Obama campaign should be making a much bigger deal about this.